In 2020, Toronto surpassed its emissions target, but more aggressive climate action is needed to meet future targets.
The City’s 2020 Sector-based Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory of community-wide GHG emissions – which tracks and identifies direct and indirect GHG emissions from three dominant sectors: buildings, transportation, and waste – indicates that Toronto’s GHG emissions were 43 per cent lower in 2020 than in 1990.
Toronto’s future sector-based GHG reduction targets are: 45 per cent by 2025, 65 per cent by 2030, and net zero by 2040.
2020 Key Findings:
- In 2020, Toronto’s community-wide GHG emissions were 14 megatonnes (MT) equivalent of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which is 43 per cent lower than in 1990. Community-wide emissions decreased by nearly 13 per cent compared to 2019, when Toronto emitted 16 MT CO2e. Decreased transportation activities were the main contributor to the city’s emissions reduction as many Toronto residents were required to either work or learn from home.
- Global GHG emissions plunged by roughly 2.4 billion tonnes in 2020, a seven per cent drop from 2019 and the largest decline on record, triggered by worldwide COVID-19 restrictions.¹ In Toronto, this translated to an 13 per cent community-wide GHG emissions reduction from 2019 levels. The transportation sector saw the most dramatic decrease in emissions in Toronto, decreasing by about one fifth from 2019 to 2020. As COVID-19 economic recovery efforts gain momentum, GHG emissions are expected to approach pre-pandemic levels in subsequent years.
- Toronto surpassed its 2020 target of a 30 per cent reduction in GHG emissions from a 1990 baseline. However, 2020 was an anomaly year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions put in place to reduce virus spread; emissions are expected to approach pre-pandemic levels in subsequent years. Continued ambitious climate actions and programs will be critical to reaching the City’s 2025 target of 45 per cent GHG emissions reduction, from 1990 levels. Further, these efforts must be scaled up to reach Toronto’s future targets of a 65 per cent reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2040.
- Buildings sector emissions were the primary source of GHG emissions in Toronto, totaling 58 per cent of community-wide emissions. This is an increase of two per cent over 2019. Natural gas, used mostly for space and water heating, continued to be the largest source of buildings sector emissions in Toronto, accounting for 54 per cent of community-wide emissions.
- Transportation sector emissions were the second largest source of GHG emissions in Toronto, totaling 33 per cent of community-wide emissions (a small decrease from 35 per cent in 2019). These emissions were mostly attributable to gasoline used in passenger cars and trucks, which accounted for 25 per cent of community-wide emissions.
- Waste sector emissions, primarily from landfills, comprised roughly nine per cent of community-wide emissions.
- The City of Toronto’s corporate emissions, or local government emissions, decreased by roughly 15 per cent compared to 2019 and continued to account for about five per cent of community-wide emissions.
Reporting annually on community-wide greenhouse gas emissions is part of the City’s commitment to address climate change and inform the development of its climate strategy and policy. Read more about the 2020 Sector-based Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory.
The City follows the Greenhouse Gas Protocol for its sector-based GHG emission inventories.
Toronto’s “A List” Score on GHG Accounting and Action Reporting
As a Global Covenant of Mayors signatory, the City of Toronto has been disclosing its GHG emissions inventory and its climate mitigation and adaptation actions annually to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in order to share Toronto’s progress and benchmark against other cities facing similar challenges.
For the fourth year in a row, the City of Toronto is recognized on the 2022 Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Cities “A” List for its leadership and transparency on climate action. Toronto was one of 122 cities globally to receive an “A” rating.
Previous Sector-based Inventories
Please note this page was updated on January 10, 2023 to accurately reflect:
- “a 13 per cent community-wide GHG emissions reduction from 2019 levels” in Toronto. This had been incorrectly listed on the website and PDF report as 11 per cent previously.
- “about 0.03 MT, originated from organics, yard waste, and wastewater treatment processes.” This had been incorrectly listed on the PDF report (p. 16) as 0.30 MT previously.